Yes, it’s finally here! You read that headline correctly. For all the beautiful, brave women that
have decided to start their journey in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, this article is here for you . Written for
you by a woman who trains BJJ, here is everything you possibly need to know from personal
My parents put me in Jiu-Jitsu as a seven year old little girl back when we lived in Rio de
Janeiro. I was the youngest, not to mention the only girl in the class, other than my black belt
legendary, female instructor, Alessandra. I never knew how to properly tie my pants as a
beginner little fighter. In the middle of stretching one day, my pants just dropped to the ground,
and my little white underwear suddenly became visible to the entire room (or so I felt). I ran to
the bathroom, launched into a crying jag and decided right then and there that I would never
come to practice again. I was so embarrassed.
So here is what I learned: You want to wear shorts under your gi or nogi pants if you are a
woman. While performing any technique or drill, your pants will loosen up no matter how tight
you tie them. Double tying the knot on your gi pants will help them to stay in place. In terms of
under shorts, something breathable and light is recommended, but it should also be tight. My
preference is for Adidas spandex shorts. They are comfortable and as light as a feather.
Sports bras are also a must. Try to aim for these simple principles: comfort, coverage, and
durability. Trust me, the last thing you need to worry about is something slipping during a roll. I
recommend Nike’s “Rival” women’s high support sports bra.
Aesthetics: It’s Not A Fashion Show:
Ladies, it is very important you don’t come to practice wearing makeup. Not only does that make
you break out, but it looks terrible on your skin after you finish even a five minute intense roll.
Skin is by far the biggest organ in the human body, and it’s really important to sweat and release
toxins. Lose the insecurity card, girls! You are there for yourself and to learn. Absolutely no one
is going to judge you.
Also, I hate to break it to you, but you have to lose the fake/ long nails… I love wearing them,
but it’s simply impossible to perform any technique. You need to use your hands at all times in
BJJ. And if they rip off during practice, ouch! Keep your nails and toenails short to avoid that
pain, and focus on your performance. And, forget bobby pins or weak hair ties. Go out and buy
something more durable for your hair. Even short hair should be kept away from your face.
Mother Nature and Men:
There is nothing to hide or to be squeamish about, menstruation is what makes us, us. I
recommend avoiding pads because they will shift everywhere while you’re training, not to
mention potentially leak on your gi, and sometimes even on your opponent! Tampons are your
friend! If you’re not comfortable with tampons, menstrual cups can be an alternative. Only you
know what works best for your body!
I’m now going to address the social dynamic with men and martial arts. As Stephan Kesting
notes, “ you have to understand and respect the 3 Ps: physiology, psychology, and physics.” So
what does that mean? Well, first don’t roll with men who are far off of your weight range (10
pounds more than you should be the max). They will likely be stronger, and a game of singular
dominance will just be played. The injuries aren’t worth it either. Working with males with
higher belt ranks is usually better because they have more experience, and have gotten over their
large ego syndrome, as well as the “awkwardness” of rolling with a female. If you feel that
someone is an overly cocky jerk, move on to another partner. It’s important to remember you are
not proving yourself to your teammates, you are there to execute a particular move. Humans will
be human, but the mats don’t tolerate any sort of sexual harassment, and yes this includes getting
asked on dates during practice. Your male teammates should be regarded as your little or big
brothers during classes, and even outside of them. A BJJ breakup could seem like a Kimura v.
Gracie when you have to roll together… It could be ugly so it’s best just to avoid it entirely. If
you ever feel uncomfortable in any situation, talk to your coach.
Just taking the step to becoming a female beginner in BJJ, in my opinion, is the most badass
thing you can do. Not only does the sport help you learn great technical self defense skills, but
it’s similar to playing a game of chess with all the cerebral strategies that it involves. Like a good
math problem, BJJ intensely focuses on strategy and technique, strengthening your brain in ways
you couldn’t imagine. I find myself in the midst of practice, thanking BJJ for showing me that I
could do the once impossible, for pushing my body to limits I could never imagine. Daily, I am
grateful for my incredible coaches and teammates — the people I have trained with my whole
life. They have always regarded me as their equal, and they continue to inspire me everyday.
From a woman to another woman, get out there and kick some ass, sistah! You got this!
Written by Hannah Milic